From the largest island of Luzon to the humblest areas of Visayas and even reaching to the corners of Mindanao, who knew that a simple cart would spark a wildfire, a movement that shows what a true Filipino heart is.
The pandemic shattered the lives of many Filipinos. Those with plenty were left with little, and those with little were left with almost none.
It doesn't matter if you were a middle class or a high class or low class; it affected all.
No matter the profession, a teacher, students, local government workers, police, priests, celebrities, a father, or even a K-POP fan, those who can, gave.
Canned goods, noodles, vegetables, fish, rice, soaps, and shampoo, even cooking ingredients such as garlic, onions, tomatoes, and even donated books. All those who wish to give a hand and share hope to the people contributed, giving birth to what we call a "Community pantry".
It was started at the street of Maginhawa in Quezon City by a fellow concerned citizen who couldn't wait anymore for the government's action to aid Filipinos, Ana Patricia Non. Ironically, Maginhawa translates as "Relief" in English. A relief felt by everyone.
The pantry grew, and now even Churches and parishes have taken up the banner and set up their community pantries.
"With the pandemic, it is expected that the number has increased exponentially. Thus, the need for a concerted localized effort to respond to the problem," Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Caritas' national director, said.
Senators and Mayors also praised the idea.
"This is a sign that not all hope is lost. The good in our fellow countrymen is shown through these community pantries. However it's a wake-up call that government must do more to provide for the people," Senator Grace Poe said.
A reflection of the past. A revival of an old culture, the Bayanihan. From the Tagalog word 'bayan,' which translates as a nation or a community. It means being a community by helping one another and uplifting them in their greatest need.
Did you know that Bayanihan originated from literally communities helping one's family lift their houses to move to its new location?
In the old days, within the Philippine countryside, people literally move houses. When a family was moving, the whole community will volunteer to lift the family's Bahay Kubo and carry it to its new residence.
People who have the ability and heart decided to take a step. A step that shook thousands of lives and showed much bravery and courage. It was a simple cart filled with hope for the Filipinos, tears for the helpless, and compassion amidst the chaos driven in our society.
Just like when the country is struck by a typhoon, Filipinos know it's time to stand up and lend a hand to their neighbors.
The pandemic is but another passing typhoon that comes and eventually will go. If anything, it just showed us what we're capable of, what we can really do. That little act, no matter how minuscule, like embers, can burn bright and give light to those in need. All that we need to do is to feed those embers. That is what Filipinos are and Whom we are supposed to be.
Photos by Community Pantry PH